SOUL OF M E X I C O TOURS
AN CREATIVE JOURNEY TO DIA DE MUERTOS
October 26 - November 2, 2023
Art-lovers and creatives will enjoy this hands-on exploration of Dia de Muertos experience this 2023! This small and specialized tour is a series of workshops designed to bring you into the home studios of local artisans in various villages, where you can engage in a Muertos-themed workshop, including making Pan de Muertos, decorative Sugar Skulls, Tamales, a traditional Marigold Altar, an Offrenda, Milagro Jaguar Mask, Copper Bracelet, and spend the afternoon painting a ceramic Catrina Doll. These experiences will give you an intimate chance to spend time with the locals, which is such a rare experience for visitors to have here. You will also get to celebrate at our 5th Annual La Fiesta de Catrinas Clandestina, which is set to be a night of outrageous fun and great food.
On October 31 and November 1, you will embark on two incredible evening tours, the latter of which will keep you out until about 4:30 in the morning! As some of our experiences for Dia de Muertos overlap into the evening, your classes will begin later in the day. This tour is centred in Morelia, and is a small-group tour.
If you have not visited our region before, we strongly recommend you stay for a few days either before or after your tour, to visit Patzcuaro and Tzintzuntzan. We can arrange a sight-seeing tour for you. Please contact us for more information.
Please email Jennifer at email@example.com
"I participated in Jen's tours of Dias de Muertos this year and it was so special. We visited places that were only accessible because we were on Jen's tour. Small cemeteries, being invited to go into people's home to celebrate the special day with them. I highly recommend it!"
Morelia International Airport is convenient for international travelers, though there are creative ways one can get here, that can include other destination points. We are 3 hours from Leon Airport (San Miguel de Allende & Guanajuato), Santiago de Queretaro, and Guadalajara (Lake Chapala & Ajijic). We are approximately 3.5-4 hours from Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, and 5 hours from Mexico City. With such a central location, we are a perfect destination for those who are travelling along various routes of Central Mexico.
Please email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday October 26, 2023
Our welcome dinner party begins at 6:30 PM at the top-rated Cielo Cocina Fusion. We will enjoy a lovely meal, discuss the itinerary and answer any questions you may have!
Friday October 27, 2023
This creative experience begins in the charming village of Capula, where you will work in the home studio of Adriana and Miguel, to paint a ceramic Catrina doll. Following your class, visit the Catrina Festival Mercado, for lunch and to browse through the thousands of art pieces on display. Before departing Capula, stop by the enchanting estate of Maestro Juan Torres, to see his romantic estate gardens, lovely gallery that is housed in a private chapel, and view his studio and gallery of handicrafts.
Saturday October 28, 2023
Enjoy a relaxing morning, and depart for Santa Clara del Cobre by Noon, for an afternoon spent forging a salt dish in the fire! Salt is an important element for a Dia de Muertos altar, making this an appropriate piece for creation during this sacred holiday. We will have a charcuterie picnic for you to enjoy, while you are working.
Depart Santa Clara del Cobre by 4:30 PM, arriving at our 5th Annual Fiesta de Catrinas Clandestina around 5 PM. Here, the make-up artists will assist you with painting each other’s faces, before our magical event begins. If you would like to assist the make-up artists with guests, once they arrive, you are certainly welcome, but we ask that you donate payment to the artists, as they truly depend on this for their income.
Sunday October 29, 2023
This morning you will enjoy a fun-filled cooking class in Morelia, with our dear friends Lupe and Elatia. Lupe learned to cook from her father, growing up, as he was a cook on a fishing boat out of Tamualipas, Mexico. Elatia has been helping Lupe with her new YouTube channel, and also providing her with a beautiful space to work. Today, you will learn to make sugar skulls and traditional foods , including baking Pan de Muerto. Sip on delicious Mexican hot chocolate, and enjoy this delectable and very Mexican feast! (We will also bring some other side dishes to compliment your meal).
As sugar skulls take about 12-24 hours to dry, we will have some blank pieces ready for you to paint, but will also show you the recipe for molding them, which once dry, you can take home to gift to someone creative, or keep for yourself!
Monday October 30, 2023
Depart Morelia this morning for the village of Santa Ana Chapitiro, where you will make a heart or cross carving that is painted, then adorned with metal charms called Milagros. These charms each attract special energy to the home of whoever possesses this symbolic piece. Following your workshop, visit the Temple of Santa Muerte before departing for Sanabria, where you will enjoy a traditional meal with a local family, who will lead you through the process of creating a traditional marigold altar. Please note: This activity is combined with another group, but your group will make your own altar separate from the other.
Tuesday October 31, 2023
This morning, enjoy a sleep-in and free time to explore Morelia, read a book, and rest. Head to Patzcuaro around 12:30 PM, and enjoy the city centro, visiting key buildings and browsing through the fabulous Adame textile stores, and exquisite handicraft galleries. This evening, we will enjoy a special meal at a local restaurant (TBA), where Jaime Hernandez of Animecha Tours will offer a fascinating lecture and presentation about the roots, history and symbolism of Dia de Muertos. It’s tonight, that we will erect your marigold altars, where you may leave a photo of a loved one who has passed away.
You will depart Patzcuaro around 7:30 for a nearby village, where the local P’urepecha families honour the souls of young children and virgins, during a celebration known as the Vigil de los Angelitos. In the town centre, you will purchase offrendas to bring to two host families, which your guide will help you with. This is a very intimate affair, with few foreign tourists. The families will invite you into their homes to observe their altars, and will offer you food and mezcal or tequila. (Please always accept your gifts, even if you don’t wish to eat them. It is a traditional protocol to always accept what you are offered.) You will return to Morelia around 11-11:30 PM.
Wednesday November 1, 2023
Today, enjoy a low-key afternoon in Morelia, resting before your big night. We do not have any activities planned for this day, as you will be out all night. If you are an adventurous eater, and love to eat foods on offer in markets, we suggest having a late lunch, and saving your appetite for the cemeteries, as there is always a lot of food on offer.
Your Noche de Muertos tour will depart at 6 PM, and will not return to Morelia until around 4:30 AM. We do not announce our tours, as we work hard to bring our guests to less-frequented cemeteries, though you will visit at least one that has crowds. Please also note – for your Noche de Muertos tour, your group will join another group of 16, to help with the cost of the boat ride. Each group will have their own guide, so once you are in the cemeteries, you can break apart to explore on your own.
We have a few simple rules about our Noche de Muertos tour – including refraining from wearing face paint, using flashes in the cemeteries, or taking close-up photographs without asking for permission. You will see hundreds of people with face paint in certain cemeteries, but this is not traditional and could be offensive to indigenous elders. Children may be trick-or-treating, and as this is permitted by their parents, we encourage our guests to participate. The families will appreciate your gestures of generosity towards their children, as thanks for sharing their celebrations with you. If you would like us to source candies for you, please let us know what you would like to spend and we will have them ready for you.
Thursday November 2, 2023
We do not have anything planned for November 2, as guests will return to their hotels at 4:30-5:00 AM. We highly recommend staying in Morelia tonight, and departing on the 3rd, to give yourself time to rest and reflect on all that you have processed. Dia de Muertos is a touching and sometimes life-changing experience, and one that can be emotional, especially for anyone who has recently lost a loved one.
If you need assistance with transportation to your next destination, please contact Jennifer at email@example.com. We hope you enjoy this incredible and culturally enriching observation, and will join us for future tours and events!
Please email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Love is anterior to life, posterior to death, initial of creation, and the exponent of breath."
- Emily Dickenson
The following photo galleries represent some of the activities and scenes you can expect to see during our tour, though the experience is unlike anything we can portray here. Some activities not shown here include our Altar Party, which is a dinner & lecture about the history of Dia de Muertos. As you will be creating your own altar with a local family, we will erect it at the restaurant. Please don't forget to bring photos of a deceased loved one you would like to honour during this beautiful observation, as you can place a photo on the altar.
Please email Jennifer at email@example.com
STAY IN MESMERIZING MORELIA
Home to approximately one million, the UNESCO centro of Morelia is a feat of artistic workmanship. Carved out of Cantera stone, the hue of the city at sunset is so warm, due to the natural pink-pigments of the stone reflecting a reddish sky. With fabulous restaurants, boutique shops and authentic, locally owned stores, three major bustling markets, and countless Baroque and Classical structures, this is a beautiful city to behold during the day and night.
ATTEND OUR CATRINA MASQUERADE
As Catrina is now iconic for Dia de Muertos, we are pleased to organize a fun-filled party each year, prior to Dia de Muertos, so our guests can partake in a masquerade party with local entertainment and wonderful cuisine. We are strongly against guests wearing face-paint to the cemeteries during our Noche de Muertos tour, as it is not customary among the local P'urepecha, and may be seen as offensive. While some worry that wearing face paint at our party is akin to participating in cultural appropriation, it should be noted that La Catrina was never sacred or part of local indigenous rituals. Her origin story is not connected to Dia de Muertos, but as she was inspired by an Aztec Goddess, she has become emblematic of this observation across Mexico. Guests will find that the Mexicans are extremely inclusive, and are happy to help you participate in this colorful and vibrant party, by painting your face and bringing beautiful accessories for your costume, which you may purchase. We invite you to join us for a memorable evening, complete with live entertainment and a few surprises along the way.
ENGAGE IN FUN WORKSHOPS
This exploration of Dia de Muertos will bring you in close contact with select villages around the Lake Patzcuaro region, where you will engage in workshops alongside artisans in their traditional workshops, which are attached to their personal homes. This is a creative experience far from an institutionalized classroom!
COOK WITH LUPE
Guadalupe was raised in Tampico, and learned to cook from her father. She has recently embarked on creating a YouTube Channel, and will be teaching you how to make Pan de Muerto and Tamales. Your tour leader will be working with you to make sugar skulls! Please note: the photos here are not what we will be cooking, but are examples of her incredible cuisine.
PILGRIMAGE TO SACRED VIGILS
While most visitors only visit the cemetery vigils on Noche de Muertos, we include the Vigil de los Angelitos, as these two observations are so interesting. The Vigil de los Angelitos is for honouring the lives of virgins and children who have died, while Noche de Muertos is for everyone else.
Guests are sometimes confused by the dates of Dia de Muertos, as the tours (and preparations by the villagers) begin in the early evening, but the vigils start at midnight. The Vigil de los Angelitos is marked as November 1 (starting at midnight), but our tour is on the evening of October 31. Families continue celebrating and honouring the souls of children and virgins throughout the day, on November 1. In the early evening of November 1, we set out on our Noche de Muertos tour, but the vigil, once again, starts at midnight - and our Noche de Muertos tour will end at around 4:30 AM on November 2. While we head home to our beds for sleep, many indigenous observers will be asleep in the cemeteries, and will continue to celebrate throughout the day on November 2.
MEET YOUR TEAM LEADERS
We would like to introduce ourselves, so you know who you will be travelling with!
With a degree in Arts Management, and ample experience as a performing artist and songwriter, Galy Gutierrez is a professional and passionate tour leader. She has worked as an art dealer of handicrafts from Mexico and has been leading tours and assisting with our events for over 4 years. Galy is a native Spanish speaker, but is also fluent in English and French. Galy's latest venture is her new artistically decorated and chic guesthouse and coffee shop in the heart of Morelia's UNESCO Centro. We have hosted several guests who have returned to request Galy's services, which is evidence of her professionalism, knowledge, skill and character.
Jose Tapia is a professional driver who speaks Spanish. Though not a licensed through SECTUR as a National Guide, Jose does hold a Public License that permits him to transport vans with passengers, which has given him the opportunity to travel all over central Mexico, including La Huasteca, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Mexico City, Guerrero, and all over Michoacan. Jose will be working with our Creation Journey this year, to assist Galy with the transportation for our guests. As Galy speaks fluent English, she will translate while on tour, and will work with Jose during your Vigil de los Angelitos and Noche de Muertos tour.
Jennifer Bjarnason was born on the West Coast of Canada, and has been living in Michoacan since 2016. With 31 years experience working with indigenous artists from the Pacific Northwest Coast, Jennifer's background as an art dealer is what initially brought her to Michoacan, assisting a boutique hotel with art tours. From there, as she continued to explore Mexico, Jennifer opened Soul of Mexico Tours and began leading groups on adventures, from day trips to a two week excursion that follows part of Mexico's incredible Silver Road. Jennifer organizes most of our logistics, designs most of our tour content, creates parties, schedules lectures, personally selects wines, mezcals and beers for special events, and even makes sauces, baked goods and other special treats for our picnics. She looks forward to hosting you!
CONSIDERATIONS DURING THIS TOUR
Please consider a donation: We work with two orphanages in Michoacan - Hogar Fenix in Patzcuaro and Hogar Irekani in Morelia. If you would like to make a donation, please contact us for more information.
Trick or Treat: Local children now celebrate the tradition of trick-or-treat, and will ask for money or candies. We realize some guests find this an appalling affront to the tradition of Dia de Muertos; however, their parents and families allow this - and culture is not static. We are here to observe new traditions, which is as exciting for us, as getting candies is for the young children. If you choose to carry pesos for the children, we can get 1 peso coins, as this is sufficient per child! If you would like to hand out candies, please let us know and we can recommend a store.
Catrina Face: Since the release of Pixar's Coco, guests have been painting their faces before heading out to the cemeteries. If you have your face painted during the day, we ask you to remove face paint before boarding the van. Though you will see a lot of nationals and tourists in Catrina-face on the night of Muertos, Catrina is not traditional among the local indigenous peoples, and could come across as very offensive. It is one thing for a culture to evolve on its own, and another for outsiders to force influence on such changes. You will see some indigenous children with face paint, but so far, this is not customary among teenagers, adults or elders. We organize our Catrina Party so guests can enjoy the fun of a masquerade, without trampling indigenous traditions or causing unnecessary offence.
For your own comfort: Weather can be inclement at this time of year, so please be prepared for rainy skies. An umbrella is highly recommended, along with rain gear and a pair of sturdy boots. Expect the cemeteries to be very slippery if it rains, a there will be a lot of mud. Some light snacks and water bottle are nice to have. As we will be on a boat for the latter part of the morning, we suggest leaving a small blanket/warm jacket and change of socks on the bus, for the ride back to Patzcuaro.
Be Flexible: Traffic jams or delays can happen anywhere. Sometimes museums are closed without notice, and we will need to find a new activity. We will always try our best to keep our schedule and activities fluid.
Be Punctual: We ask guests to be 10 mins early for departure times, so we can load the van and maintain our schedule as best as possible.